Claudia and I will leave for India on 2005-11-09 and return 2005-11-30.
The date of this page should make sure that during our stay, this is the first entry on the Diary page.
This page contains an uploaded file:
We arrived safely and on time but without our luggage. At home the cable modem does not work thus no emails for now.
Via Xah Lee.
While in India I suggested that there was a significant pro-Nazi movement in India at the time. My friends denied this. I joked that they weren’t taught these things in school and promised that I’d try to find some evidence for it.
Today the WOZ has a review of a book about victims of WW2 from the European colonies (Unsere Opfer zählen nicht von Recherche International). It says that Subhas Chandra Bose, the former president of the independence movement Indian National Congress, was able to mobilize about 4000 volunteers against the strong resistance of Mahatma Gandhi. The volunteers joined the German Waffen-SS towards the end of the war and committed massacres in France.
It remains unclear whether they actually shared the ideology of their allies, but I personally don’t think that it would make a difference. Not everybody who joined the Nazis was motivated by their racist ideology.
Art by Yoko d’Holbachie reminds me of some illustrations for books my parents read to me when I was a child. This time, the artist seems quite psychedelic, too.
I’m considering to add 512MB or 1GB of RAM to my little iBook. It has 256MB at the moment. iPhoto is taking way too long to start up these days with a bit over 700 pics in it. Once iPhoto started, it’s comfortable to use, but switching to any other application takes forever because of all the swapping.
And I’m planning on buying a Bluetooth/USB thing so that I can try to sync my mobile phone with my laptop. That would be an excellent way of backing up my mobile phone.
Update: Bought it, and now iPhoto starts in a few seconds only. Got to test the Bluetooth thingy now. I got a Nokia 6230i before leaving to India, as the display of my old Nokia 6610i broke when I dropped it. It turns out that these phones are Bluetooth capable (nice to transfer pictures from the phone to the laptop), but not iSync compatible. WTF!? Why not?
Oh, and since I have OSX 10.3 instead of 10.4, I get to use iSync 1.5 instead of iSync 2.1, therefore I have a different list of compatible devices. ARGH!
Using non-free software seems to have no great effect on my periphery hassle. This is exactly the kind of thing I kept hating about Linux.
Strangely enough it seems that I can download iSync 2.1. But it won’t help. The Readme file says that it is for 10.4 only.
And I don’t even want real syncing. All I want is to get my address book from the phone onto the laptop in some useful form so that I can use it as a backup. vCards sounds like a fine format, for example.
And here I was thinking that Bluetooth had been designed as a standard for all to follow and to solve exactly these kinds of problems.
I also noticed that my Airport Extreme (WiFi) range has been severely reduced after adding this 1GB of RAM. Did they damage it? Is the new RAM obstructing the radio waves somehow? Damn. I don’t think it’s the base station or the cablemodem, because it works just fine from my desktop… Download speed over 76 KB/sec. So they must have done something to my Airport card.
Welcome to the real world, I guess.
Just before going to bed I removed the iBook keyboard, removed the Airport card, put it back, unplugged the antenna (?) – and it worked!!
I started playing a little bit of Metroid Prime: Echoes, ie. Metroid Prime 2. I had been playing Metroid Prime 1 for a while, and liked the exploring/scanning stuff. What I did not enjoy (and what seems to be a hallmark feature of the game) is the search for the missing extra weapons and capabilities which allow you to return to old rooms and find new exits. The net result of that is that you keep returning to old rooms. Bah! Plus boss fights are way too hard for me. That’s why I have decided to give number 2 a try since I had bought it a long time ago.
I bought Burnout Revenge for the Xbox and played that for a bit today. It looks cooler, but it’s still Burnout. I guess I’ll enjoy playing it with my best friend, but it’s no way as exhilarating as Burnout 3 was when I first saw it.
The first Human Security Report documents a dramatic, but largely unknown, decline in the number of wars, genocides and human rights abuse over the past decade. Published by Oxford University Press, the Report argues that the single most compelling explanation for these changes is found in the unprecedented upsurge of international activism, spearheaded by the UN, which took place in the wake of the Cold War. 
I decided to abandon my quest for Oddmuse running without errors and warnings when warnings and taint-checking are enabled. What really killed me was that there was no way to write
$diff = `diff $old $new` with taint-checking enabled, unless I wanted to do all the mumbo jumbo myself (search for “Here’s a way to do backticks reasonably safely” in perlsec).
So I wanted to create a branch in CVS and check it all into a branch, revert to the trunk, and get back to work. Looking at Open Source Development with CVS by Karl Fogel and Moshe Bar (also available online), I used the following based on an example in the book:
cvs tag root-of-warnings-and-taint-checking cvs tag -b warnings-and-taint-checking-branch cvs update -r warnings-and-taint-checking-branch cvs ci -m "unfinished move to get -wT working"
So now I have the stuff committed onto a branch. Back to the trunk!
cvs update -A
Look at the result on savannah.gnu.org/cgi-bin/viewcvs/oddmuse/.
Yesterday, I played some Far Cry: Instincts and today I played some Soul Calibur 3.
I like the simple tactical game included with Soul Calibur.
I also gave Second Life another chance, now that I have 1.25GB of RAM. While it works, it is still damn slow with only a 1.2GHz CPU.
I also tried Cube, a first person shooter (FPS). The one multiplayer world I connected to had so many people running around that my average time to live (TTL) was about 2s.
TelePolis writes about the secret prisons where the CIA doesn’t torture criminals according to their own words.  But then again, what they consider to be acceptable mistreatment of prisoners reads like torture to me. 
Telepolis also goes into the silent cooperation the US enjoys in Europe. Clearly, we need to look to opposition parties to put some pressure on our governments. Nobody else seems to be interested in uncovering the truth and putting the perpetuators to justice.
Just now the BBC World Service is reporting that the ACLU is filing a case against the abductions and torture taking place.
TelePolis writes about a court decision regarding their publisher Heise Zeitschriften Verlag. This decision will affect all content service providers in the German net: Blogger with comments enabled, open wikis, open forums, etc.
Until recently, content service providers had to remove offensive material when it was pointed out to them. Once they did that, they were not to be liable for the content provided by the users of their service. The recent court decision, however, goes further: It wanted the publisher to promise to never let the particular violation happen again. In effect, it wanted the publisher to screen all future content and make sure it did not contain any questionable material before it was going to be published.
Der beauftragte Rechtsanwalt Bernhard Syndikus verlangte vom Heise Zeitschriften Verlag daraufhin eine Unterlassungserklärung. Die wollte man in Hannover aber nicht abgeben. Angesichts von mehr als 200.000 Postings pro Monat in Heise-Foren ließen sich diese mit “geeigneten”, also möglichst mithilfe von Software-Bots automatisierbaren technischen Schutzmaßnahmen wohl kaum von jeglichen Rechtsverletzungen rein halten. Eine manuelle Kontrolle jedes Postings vor der Veröffentlichung sei auch nicht zu bewerkstelligen. Die Hamburger Gerichtskammer kam diesem Einwand nicht nach. 
I wonder what this means for me.
In our bookclub we read The Mystic Masseur by V. S. Naipaul. It was written in the 1950s and describes the rise of a man named Ganesh from poverty to politics in the Indian subcommunity of Trinidad. I wasn’t too impressed and don’t recommend it.
There is a dry humor which some might appreciate, but I don’t feel that is enough to carry me through the book. There’s also some scenes that illustrate in very few words how backwards people were at the time.
When we talked about the book yesterday, Geetha said that Vaipaul is sometimes attacked for being a racist, and I think I understand why. He truly has a colonial perspective and focuses on the weak spots, ignoring the many moments of happiness, achievement, and respect that are there as they are in any human civilization.
The next book is Snow by Orhan Pamuk. He’s Turkish, and just recently the WOZ had printed a review of another Turkish book, which I ordered together with Snow: Von Istanbul nach Hakkari von Tevfik Turan, et al (erhältlich beim Unionsverlag).
I would have thought that this is the default everywhere in the civilized world? What’s new is that this seems to be directly linked to the USA:
They argued evidence obtained in US detention camps should be excluded from court hearings.
There’s also a box on that page with the same message I’ve been quoting from Cassandra by Christa Wolf:
We are at war with terror but that is no reason to become what we are fighting – Matthew Iles, Ashford, UK
I also fixed a bug in the interplay between two Oddmuse modules.
It felt good to be coding again.
I also learnt that there are public logs of the EmacsChannel – on http://www.irclogs.ws/freenode/emacs.html. It seems that people have asked them to stop, but their logs are still online. Obfuscation is done very cheaply, with no care taken to obfuscate nicks in the messages themselves. And clearly, sometimes people can be identified by the content of their messages alone, without the need to mention any nicks at all. The best thing is to have no public logs.
When your ISP’s SMTP server fails, use SSH to tunnel to somewhere else, where you are allowed to send local mail:
sudo ssh -f -N -L 25:localhost:25 firstname.lastname@example.org
Then start to use localhost port 25 as your SMTP server.
My computers have the names of bumblebee subgenera: Confusibombus is my GNU/Linux box (using SlackWare these days), and Alpinobombus is my laptop (using Mac OS 10.3.9 aka. Panther at the moment – I don’t feel like upgrading to Tiger).
What’s your NamingScheme?
On the EmacsChannel:
2005-09-28 on RyanYeske’s blog: “This blog is optimized for no browser. The recommended way to read it is with emacs.”
Is there a service where I could have an URL showing Bangalore, Mysore, and all the other small places we visited on Google Maps?
I guess I could find longitude and latitude for all these sites and thereby have Google show satellite pictures of the area. But that’s not quite the same thing, is it. Perhaps I should steal a satellite map from Google Maps, load it into xplanet…
It breaks my heart to think of the time and effort I’d have to spend, though.
Any other ideas?
Remember social networks, grass-root movements, getting away from the big monopolies? The Internet, the web, blogs – they were going to save us. TelePolis writes that the opposite is true. The right wing has been fighting liberal media bias in the news, and won.  And they are taking their efforts into the blogosphere. And they’re winning. Eight out of the top ten political blogs are right wing blogs, they quote Truth Laid Bear (but without a good follow-up URL). Let’s face it, most people in the West deserve the government they got because they voted for it. The web just reflects this.
I wonder about the GPL3. There’s much talk about “closing the ASP loophole”.
; ASP loophole: Application Service Providers are people offering an application on the web, gratis or for a fee. They don’t really distribute their software, users connect to their website and use the application directly. Thus, the terms of the GPL version 2 do not apply! Even if they use GPL software for their site, users don’t get to study, copy, and redistribute it.
Now, people using a wiki such as Oddmuse are also application service providers. They use the wiki, and their users usually have no access to the source. If the GPL v3 intends to fix this, what will wiki founders have to provide: Links to the wiki source and the modules? What about the configuration? There could conceivably be a lot of code in the config files… It is very hard to draw the line between configuration and modules.
Maybe a link to http://www.oddmuse.org/ is enough. But what if you used other modules you also got from elsewhere, do you have to provide links, too? Maybe only if the author requests it. We could do that: The Oddmuse:Version Action displays some text from every module loaded. If the author of a module wanted to, he could put a link in there.
To see this version information for my own site, click on Administration at the bottom of the page and click on the Wiki Version link. This will take you to my version page.
I guess I’d phrase it more or less like this:
When using this software to provide services without distributing the software, your service must provide easily findable links to the source code of the software. As a service provider you are not required to distribute the software, and therefore your code need not be licenced under the terms of the GPL. You must link to all GPL licensed code you are using, however. We also encourage you to license your code under the terms of the GPL and distribute it.
Browing around the FSF sites I ended up reading another entry of RichardStallman’s travel blog: His stay in Cambodia for FOSSAP II. I liked this part:
The climax of the event, for me, occurred when the representative of the government of a rather undemocratic Asian country defended the WTO. (The WTO requires copyright rules that forbid people from sharing.) He explained, condescendingly and at excessive length, that people who decide to play soccer must abide by its rules, arbitrary though they may be; then he compared the WTO’s rules to the rules of soccer. He said, “These are the rules that the wealthy countries have set for access to their markets. We have to accept them.”
I responded, “The WTO’s rules were designed to be unjust. In every country, they benefit the the wealthy and hurt everyone else. They give us a world of sweatshops. No country should accept these rules.” Half the people in the room then applauded. The other half probably support trickle-down economics.
I brought some Indian music CDs home which we have bought with SriharshaSetty. The way I usually approach new music is to leave the same CD in the player for two or three days. The first CD we listened to was from Bombay S. Jayashri. I liked it. As I told Harsha, I either lack the knowledge or our language lacks the words to really describe music, so I’m affraid I can’t say much else beyond “like” or “no like”.
The next one we listened to was a live concert by Dr. L. Subramaniam and Ustad Allarakha (linking to a popup text instead of the catalogue). I like the music but it really requires some concentrated listening. Nothing for the background.
Currently we’re listening to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Music that quickly wiggles its way into your brain. I like it. We also bought remixes of his music. Listening to his music I don’t understand the need for remixes. Or dance remixes! Argh!
When I was chatting with people in India, there were times when pulling out a business card seemd to help a lot. No need to scrible email addresses on little pieces of paper, and instant respect from the kids.
Today I ordered 200 cards as follows on http://visitenkarten-online.ch/ because I really liked their graphical design thing:
I must confess I was tempted to use the Oddmuse logo…
The Flyerline fiasko was moved to a separate page.
I’ve been playing a lot of Soul Calibur 3 these days. The old “Arcade” mode is gone. There’s something like it in combination with a story line (which I have stopped reading – too boring). And there is a world championship with fake other players.
What I really like is the abundance of costumes!
While rewriting a page on the Oddmuse site, I found this little nugget of useful information that I don’t want to loose:
All elements other than those declared in the DTD as EMPTY must have an end tag. Elements that are declared in the DTD as EMPTY can have an end tag or can use empty element shorthand (see Empty Elements). 
The content model for the a element is not EMPTY.  Therefore, you need an explicit closing tag for a elements, even if you’re just adding a named anchor:
Reading Singularity Sky by Charles Stross:
One inspector only, with diplomatic credentials, may accompany the flagship. His remit will be to monitor the use of reality-modification weapons by both sides in the conflict and to assure the civilized world that the New Republic does not engage in gratuitous use of time travel as a weapon of mass destruction.
After starting to read the Webcredible Handbook (gratis PDF for a limited while, via Stefan Bucher), I decided that I really should give the search box at the top another try. So I experimented with the search box on the right below the heading (both floating and absolute positioning), and finally settled on the search box up in the nav bar with a bit more whitespace after the Calendar.
Does it work for you? I removed the Search/Go! button, too. Somehow it bothered me, looked too heavy. And I much prefer to use the Enter key than to hit Tab and Space to click the button.
There’s some Oddmuse code on Oddmuse:Comments on Searching for those interested. I really feel that once I have decided on the “right” approach, it should be part of the Oddmuse core. Search should be up there!
Doc Searls wants to frame the Internet not just as a “pipes” and “transport” in his LinuxJournal article Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes:
via LionKimbro on MarkDilley’s homepage on CommunityWiki
Heise writes about the decision to store a lot of contact information: Email headers, logs, mobile phone positions, etc.  Using this paper, national legislation will have to implement the next step towards the police state. This is not a TransparentSociety where everybody can watch everybody. Instead, the police will be unwatched and big corporations will try to bend the law to their will by redefining copyright violations as a serious criminal offense.
Sickening! And I thought that this was going to be a tight one. Not so! 387 to 204. We are truly getting what we are deserving. Argh!
Update: On SuShee’s blog there’s a comment saying that public access to surveillance cameras is a satire. At first I thought that the comment said the EU decision was a joke. Unfortunately his is not true. The EU decision is very real.
14-12-2005: The European Parliament has adopted the directive on data retention. The amendments were approved by 387 votes in favour to 204 against with 29. The final resolution was adopted by 378 votes in favour to 197 against with 30 abstentions.
Richard Rutter is writing The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web. He’s basically going through The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. In my copy of The Zen of CSS Design by Dave Shea and Molly E. Holzschlag, they also list Elements of Typographic Style. Here’s what they have to say about it:
This book provides a comprehensive and advanced look at typography. The encyclopedic depth of knowledge represented and assumed makes it hard to read for anyone but the most advanced typographers, but the practical application of theory makes it a must read anyway.
Argh! Maybe I’ll just read a few articles in Rutter’s blog, subscribe to the RSS feed, and decide later whether I actually want to read the book.
Heh. e1f suggested I read http://www.typographi.com/. There was a nice article on the digitalisation of an old East German font , which ended in a very cool image illustrating the powers of !OpenType.
I found a link to barewiki.com in StefanBucher’s delicious feed (which he splices into his blog feed). The design looks so much like 37signals I was certain that this was a prototype of their new product.
Somebody got inspired by 37signal’s design.
The initial page reminds me of OddWiki, of course. Just start a wiki. Except that barewiki looks far nicer, and they include the wysiwyg wiki that I usually don’t install. And they don’t accept non-ASCII characters for a pagename. “Schröder” didn’t work.
Then I noticed: Uh, how do I link to new pages? I can’t figure it out. Perhaps barewiki is just a one-page thing? Like writeboard, actually. And writeboard is by 37signals.
Ever felt that the shadows in your room come alive in the dark? Hasn't happened to me in a long time, but it used to be something very common when I was a kid. Perhaps I just trained myself to not stare into the darkness.
TelePolis reports that German officers were also questioning detainees in Guantanamo and Syria.  The US is not alone. Torture knights all around… And Germany is trying to blame it all on the US instead of doing the right thing and resolving this once and forever.
Remember the report on Spain using torture?
Unlike England’s high court (2005-12-08 England Torture ) TelePolis also quotes a policeman as saying that while information obtained through torture may not be used in investigations, these information can be used to defend against danger:
Ähnlich äußerte sich auch der Vorsitzende der Polizeigewerkschaft Konrad Freiberg am Donnerstag im Deutschlandfunk. Für Ermittlungszwecke können solche Verhöre, die möglicherweise indirekt durch Folter zustande gekommen sind, vor deutschen Gerichten nicht verwendet werden. Aber wenn es um eine Gefahrenabwehr geht, seien solche Verhöre nicht zu beanstanden.
How long before we’re allowed to torture suspects to determine whether there is a danger in the first place? And if the victims confess to there being a danger, then obviously torture was the right means to the end.
In another article, they cite the minister of the interior as saying that Germany will use information obtained under torture, that long incarcerations have convinced a lot of people to confess, and he seemed not to object to terrible conditions in Syria prisons.
Welcome to the torture club.
Trying to install mplayer with Real codecs. Fetched Real Player 9 codecs for Mac OS X, installed the package (installs to /usr/local/lib/codecs).
alpinobombus:/usr/local/lib/codecs alex$ ls atrc.bundle cook.bundle drv2.bundle drvc.bundle sipr.bundle
The install mplayer using
sudo port install MPlayer.
At first, of course, I had installed MPlayer before installing the codecs. Thus it was built without the Real Audio crapulage. Then I installed the codecs and tried uninstalling/reinstalling. Too bad the port system keeps an archive of the installed software arround, so everytime I did this, it would reinstall the archive instead of rebuilding.
sudo port clean --archive MPlayer solved that problem.
But I guess I got the wrong codecs after all:
alpinobombus:~/Desktop alex$ mplayer vidya.rm MPlayer 1.0pre7try2-3.3 (C) 2000-2005 MPlayer Team AltiVec found CPU: PowerPC Playing vidya.rm. REAL file format detected. Stream description: Audio Stream Stream mimetype: audio/x-pn-realaudio Stream description: Video Stream Stream mimetype: video/x-pn-realvideo Stream mimetype: logical-fileinfo VIDEO: [04VR] 240x192 24bpp 25.000 fps 0.0 kbps ( 0.0 kbyte/s) Clip info: name: Vidya Rangan (Equations) über Gats, Tourismus und die WTO - Hongkong, 14. 12.2005 author: www.radiohongkong.de ========================================================================== Requested audio codec family [ra10cook] (afm=realaud) not available. Enable it at compilation. Requested audio codec family [racook] (afm=realaud) not available. Enable it at compilation. Requested audio codec family [racookwin] (afm=realaud) not available. Enable it at compilation. Requested audio codec family [racookmac] (afm=realaud) not available. Enable it at compilation. Cannot find codec for audio format 0x6B6F6F63. Read DOCS/HTML/en/codecs.html! ========================================================================== ========================================================================== Requested video codec family [rv3040] (vfm=realvid) not available. Enable it at compilation. Requested video codec family [rv40] (vfm=realvid) not available. Enable it at compilation. Requested video codec family [rv40win] (vfm=realvid) not available. Enable it at compilation. Requested video codec family [rv40mac] (vfm=realvid) not available. Enable it at compilation. Cannot find codec matching selected -vo and video format 0x30345652. Read DOCS/HTML/en/codecs.html! ==========================================================================
TelePolis schreibt über die WTO Verhandlungen in Hong Kong und die mediale Macht der Gegenveranstaltungen. Eine davon ist zB. Radio Hong Kong (Deutsch), mit Video Clips zu Themen rund um die WTO, für ein Publikum, dass technisch versiert ist und mit Breitband angeschlossen ist.
Leider haben so Leute wie ich keine Zeit und zu informieren. Das ist ja auch eine Tragödie. Einerseits will ich mehr Bücher lesen, mehr Zeitung lesen, mich sonst noch informieren, und so werde ich vom InformationOverload regelrecht paralysiert, mache nichts ausser “einen schlechten Eindruck” wie man hier in der Schweiz sagen würde.
I liked BruceSchneier’s Sony's DRM Rootkit: The Real Story in his latest CryptoGram. What bothers him the most is that Anti Virus companies and security companies were cooperating with a big content owner in cracking the users’ computer, instead of doing what they are being paid to do: Protect the users’ computer.
I had read Narnia by C. S. Lewis a long time ago – so long ago, in fact, that I barely remembered some weird facts like there being a wardrobe, an ice queen and four kids. As I watched the movie Narnia (2005), more fragments surfaced – the traitor, the petrifications, the sacrifice, the resurrection. What I was unprepared for, however, was that the story seems to be written for children. It is hard to say why I Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings should be better suited for adults, or why that movie should be better than the Narnia movie. Maybe it is the educational value that turns me off. I’ll have to read the book (I bought the all-in-one adult version) and see whether the book has a different mood than the movie.
I don’t recommend this movie, but I do recommend the book. I’ve read it a few days later (2005-12-20 Books).
Today there was some uncaught spam on EmacsWiki:RecentChanges. If you look at the list below, you’ll see how many edits a certain IP number made, what percentage of all edits those comprised, how many edits were rejected, and what percentage of the edits made were rejected.
day IP Edits %Total Rejects %Edits 0 22.214.171.124 19 28% 8 42% 1 126.96.36.199 7 2% 2 28% 188.8.131.52 1 0% 1 100% 2 184.108.40.206 1 0% 1 100% 220.127.116.11 1 0% 1 100% 3 4 18.104.22.168 3 1% 1 33% 22.214.171.124 3 1% 3 100% 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 126.96.36.199 1 0% 1 100% 12 13 188.8.131.52 1 0% 1 100% 14
Why am I mentioning this at all? The EmacsWiki:BannedContent list is getting too big. If somebody like DrewAdams updates more than 80 source files on EmacsWiki on a single day, then the Oddmuse:Despam Action crashes. The script is killed without being able to finish, leaving lockfiles behind, etc.
I tried it with a much shorter list of banned regular expressions and it worked like a charm. I therefore think I will do the following:
Update: Damn, I can’t reproduce those crashes on EmacsWiki! That’s bad, because now I can’t test whether my code improves performance. I changed the !BannedContent code to only check URLs, now. Perhaps that will speed things up and buy me some time.
Update: Upgraded the format, fiddled with some settings, wrote new tests, and currently debugging.
Hm, I think the latest update broke something… I hope all the bugs are fixed, now.
JohnSullivan has two stories from the USA: One is about the goverment checking email and phonecalls without a warrant, and claiming it was due to national security, and two is about a student trying to get a copy of the Red Book by Mao, and who is visited by guys from the department of Homeland Security instead. 
This stinks so much it’s hard to believe. A few days later, it seems that John himself no longer knows whether he’s to believe in the story  and is tracking !BoingBoing on it. And the original journalist seems to be speaking up again.  And finally, it all ends in the student admitting that he made that up. Phew! The sad thing is, I guess, that I thought the story was plausible enough in the first place. 
I don’t know what the moral is, here. 1) He’s an idiot. 2) Don’t believe everything you read. 3) We live in such an invasive political climate that such stories are easily believable. 4) He’s definitely an idiot. 
TheRegister also reports the NSA spying on US citizens:
[…] according to numerous un-named sources paraphrased in the Times, the President signed a secret order authorizing him to intercept phone calls and emails from US persons in communication with persons outside the US, and all without the slightest bit of judicial oversight. 
There’s more in another TelePolis article (“Die NSA durchsucht mit Hintertüren bei den Providern in den USA Telefon- und Internetkommunikation, der Kongress soll der Bush-Regierung ausdrücklich die Ausübung der Kriegsrechte in den USA untersagt haben” ), but nothing really astonishing once you accept that the goverment is trying to fight some of the laws instead of abiding by all of them.
TelePolis says that the real problem is that a democratically elected government tries to circumvent control by parliament and courts:
Bedenklich ist vor allem, dass eine demokratisch gewählte, auch sonst zur Heimlichtuerei neigende und mit Lügen einen Krieg legitimierende Regierung angeblich zum Schutz der Menschen und offenbar im Selbstauftrag sowie durch eigentümliche Auslegung von Gesetzen versucht, sich möglichst weitgehend der parlamentarischen und richterlichen Kontrolle zu entziehen, und dass sie damit so lange Zeit durchgekommen ist. 
DanahBoyd has an excellent article on the quality of WikiPedia:
We should be teaching our students how to interpret the materials they get on the web, not banning them from it. We should be correcting inaccuracies that we find rather than protesting the system. We have the knowledge to be able to do this, but all too often, we’re acting like elitist children. In this way, i believe academics are more likely to lose credibility than Wikipedia. – Published both on Many2Many and on her blog, Apophenia.
I finished The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (I bought the Narnia book containing all the Narnia novels and saw the movie a few days ago: 2005-12-17 Movies). I liked the book. Here, the plot, the manner of speech, the simple characterizations really work well. It reminded me of The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. Maybe I should read up on their common beginnings in the “Inklings” and the differences they later had on the subject of story telling.
That reminds me, I should order the follow-up to Singularity Sky which I finished a few days ago (2005-12-13 Books) – Iron Sunrise by Charles Stross. (I need to repeat the name of the author so that my wiki will automatically link the book to a search…)
So, what did I think of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? Well, the most important thing is what I remember from my ancient childhood. I read the book or watched the movie at such an early age that I did not really remember the story when I watched the movie or read the book. But there where some images that had totally left their impression on me. For example, the Lion sacrificing itself, and the stone table with ancient magic from the dawn of time, and there being even older magic from before the dawn of time. That intrigued me to end.
And of course the possibility of finding another world inside everyday objects such as wardrobes. That was something I remembered very well.
The ice queen petrifying her enemies was also something I remembered very well. I didn’t have nightmares or anything. But it was something I remembered. There was an ice queen, and she could turn people to stone. Even after I had forgotten the plot, the children, the endless winter, and Santa Clause, I remembered the white witch.
What did the story mean to me? I wasn’t too impressed with the moral values of the story (sacrifice, betrayal, forgiveness), nor was I as impressed as I was back then with the fantastic creatures in the book (centaurs, fauns, dwarves). I think it was a kind of simplifity that enchanted me. Simple sentences. The author talking to me directly. The text reduced to the bare essentials. In a way, it’s like Ernest Hemingway: On the surface, the text is reduced to the max.
I think that’s what I liked about it as I reread the story at age 32.
I’ve been playing Soul Calibur 3 with friends. With friend A I was playing at 70% handicap vs. 110% and still winning. With friend Z I was playing at 130% handicap vs.
100% and still loosing. I think that shows that skill does make a difference.
I also played Far Cry today. It was going pretty well and I decided to try a silly stunt before quitting: Running through the next section without shooting back. And so I did. At the next autosave point I was down at 15% health. Damn, I thought, better return to that save point! I returned to the last save point, which was just where I was, but with 50% health. A bit better, but I really wanted to undo my little silly run, and decided to go back to the beginning of the level. That undid everything I played again. And saved.
Only now did it dawn on me that this game has a. autosave (good) and b. only one game saved (terrible!!).
Wrote a new module for Community:FrontPage these days after reading LionKimbro’s CriticismOfWiki. He did not seem to impressed – I wonder whether I’m missing something. Are wikis no longer the übertool for text in a social context? Anyway, it’s called Oddmuse:Front Page Extension.
Got The Complete Amber Chronicles by Roger Zelazny today. Reminds me of AmberMUSH, where I played before I joined Elendor. I was playing a tea-drinking, tank-driving, and pipe-smoking Rhino warrior. Heh!
I also started reading my second Narnia book: Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis. I’m reading them in publishing order: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was published in 1950, and Prince Caspian was published in 1951. Yow!
I should also read Snow by Orhan Pamuk for my book club on 2005-02-01, but I’m postponing that one. (Got to page 12, at least.)
Orhan Pamuk is currently on trial in Turkey.
I saw Corpse Bride (2005) the other day, but wasn’t as enchanted as I was with The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). I’m not sure why. Perhaps because the Zombie theme is very close to the Halloween theme. Or maybe because the hilarious Santa Claus was missing.
I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re very interested in anything Tim Burton does.
TelePolis reports that the ominous lists of suspected terrorists have spread throughout Europe. You’re on a list, your social welfare is being slashed, you don’t get credit, and you don’t know why you’re on the list, so you can’t defend yourself. 
This what I am most afraid of, politically: Like idiots, we repeat the stupid mistakes of foolish friends, refusing to learn from their experience, refusing to do better, refusing to be bold, refusing to fight for our rights.
It seems that the European governments are happy to cooperate with others, even if they torture prisoners, kidnap suspects, mistreat them, etc. And now Poland doesn’t want to publish the report on the suspected secret CIA prisons… 
liiwi just provided me with the latest news on the Airport card and Linux:
I realized my /etc/X11/xorg.conf setup was wrong. My !AltGr was no longer working as soon as I switched from KDE to some other window manager (Xfce4 in this case). I uncommented the following line in my config file and restarted:
Option “XkbModel” “pc105”
I finished volume 2 in The Great Book Of Amber by Zelazny – The Guns Of Avalon. The writing is really old style, there’s not much character development, there’s a total lack of emotional depths to the characters, but still, the story develops, it has a few interesting corners, and I still remember how they impressed me when I was younger.
It still beats reading the newspaper, which I only get once a week and still manages to pile up!
Stuff I already knew and also recommend:
I’m really looking forward to the rest of them! I just read Jellaby and I liked it.